Dungeons & Dragons Online

Campaign Setting: The Infinite Plane. Part 3: The End.

Content of the article: "Campaign Setting: The Infinite Plane. Part 3: The End."

Same disclaimer as the previous post: I'll set up direct links after this part is finished. If you're reading this and there's no link yet, I'm going back and doing that right now, so be patient.

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As the life-forms upon the plane grew, so too did the new entities burgeoning beneath them, within the First Sphere that had been wrapped around the Empty Devourer to mitigate its pull. The names of these people came quickly to The First of The Fallen: This new world within the spheres was Hell, and his children, and their children to come, would be called Demons. This is where stories begin to diverge.

In each one, the creatures who dwell upon The Plane come to understand the nature of their origins, and then the origins of the world. They come to know the existence of The Mindless Creator and The Empty Devourer. In each one, The First of The Fallen conceives of the idea to change the natural order by embodying The Empty Devourer in a physical form. In each one, worshippers of The Devourer upon The Plane come to know of this plan, and conspire to bring it to fruition. In each one, they succeed.

The Tarrasque is born. As the incarnation of The Empty Devourer, all it knows is hunger and consumption, and soon after it comes into existence, it realizes that everything else in existence is food. It devours reality, gnawing even through the folds of space that form the Nine Spheres of Hell, and as it eats, it grows. Within its stomach is the true form of The Empty Devourer, the black hole that formed the negative partner in the binary origin of creation, and as it eats, all that it eats is slowly, but surely, sucked in.

In one story, and perhaps the first of these stories, it succeeds. It devours everything, growing so large as to devour even The Mindless Creator. A new, smaller universe, and a much shorter-lived one, forms in the stomach of the Tarrasque, in the shrinking space between Creator and Devourer. On the yet-undigested chunks of The Plane in the space between, mortal life struggles, as it always will, to adapt and survive. Every horrid thought, every forbidden practice, is enacted in the vain hope for the means to live even a moment longer, and to somehow outlast this horrid nightmare world, or two escape it. One practice slowly shows itself to be dominant: Mind-drinking. Sustaining oneself by pure novelty of thought, and by drinking in that thought (and thus that novelty) from others. The mind-drinkers change, physiologically and then genetically, to optimize this practice. Time grows shorter. They capture an Aboleth, and then another, and then hunt more. Drinking in the endless experiences of the Aboleth does not just feed the mind-drinkers, it empowers them. They forge vast structures that can withstand the inexorable pull of The Empty Devourer, but even these cannot last forever.

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It is another practice, another secret, that saves them: Chronurgy. Magic that can manipulate time. Two of the mind-drinkers, together with an Aboleth, unlock the secret, and this is the moment that the divergence of stories begins. Tapping the power within the Mindless Creator in the moments before it is completely devoured, they are able to power an engine that transports them from the moments before the end of time to sometime around the middle of it, in the blind eternities beyond The Plane, and it is by this feat that the mind-drinkers earn their true name as a people: The Illithid.

"The word 'Illithid' is actually a bit of dense wordplay. First off, the word is a portmanteau of 'Illithyn' with the suffix '-id', meaning not, which translates directly to 'not Illithyn', but is actually meant to mean 'not of Illithyn'. This, in turn, plays off the connotations of 'Illithyn', the name of the Deity of Time. By saying they are 'not of Illithyn', the Illithid declare themselves 'defiers of time', embracing their role in the multiverse as the original, and most prolific, Chronurges."- The Memoirs and Archives of Altilla, Angelic Messenger of Illithyn.

It is in the fallout of this moment, and the parting-of-ways of the three High Chronurges, that all other timelines, and thus all other stories of the Plane, begin. The Aboleth High Chronurge, Brelnot, decided to take his species' purpose to a new level, and wander orthogonally from timeline to timeline, collecting the memories of Aboleths from different timelines who had seen different histories of The Plane to create a branching timeline-tree. His work will never be done. The Illithid High Chronurge, Vorlin, attempts to subvert the history of other timelines, bringing them to the same end as his own, so that more Illithid, or comparable final-survivor cultures, arise from the ends of days in their Tarrasque gullets of their own timelines and join his civilization of timeline-hopping Illithid. If he has any plan beyond simply expanding his atemporal empire, it can hardly be imagined. The third High Chronurge, Altilla, was utterly terrified by the gravity of what she and her companions had just done. She fled to the Plane of this new timeline, and eked out a meager existence as a woodland hermit as she slowly came to terms with the act of crossing timelines and the establishment of this as a possibility, and then with all the atrocities the Illithid had committed to survive, and then with the horrific problems with her world she'd become wrapped up in.

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And then came a knock at her door. There stood Illythin, the Deity of Time. He offered her a chance, and she took it. Thus, Altilla ascended to become an Angel of Illithyn, though keeping her mortal soul and form, and became the Deities' High Chronomancer. Attempts to incarnate the Empty Devourer are inevitable, in every timeline, but their success is not. And in every timeline, one after the other, Altilla will be there, attempting to counteract the intervention of Vorlin and the other Illithid, and to set plans in motion to prevent the incarnation of the Tarrasque, or to kill it if it should be summoned.

This, in three parts, is the story of the Infinite Plane(s), from the dualistic origin that defines them, through the personal struggle that shapes them, to the multiversal struggle that leads them to their ends. These details, these key aspects of the story, are fixed in most true stories from The Plane, although some timelines are surely strange enough as to feature notable alterations from even these strict core fixtures. The rest of the story is up to the teller. There are, of course, other common elements that might be worth relating- the great, gaping hole in the Nine Spheres that exists in many timelines, and the infinitely-long pillar of material that extends to fill it, which supposedly supports a city upon its opposite end; The names and natures of the Deities of the Plane, often nine in number but always with exceptions and divisions; the things that lie waiting in the void opposite The Plane, in the space the gods dare not tread for fear of finding things comparable to themselves, or even greater. All of these things are worth telling stories about, but no matter what story you may tell about The Plane, this is the story you need to know to understand it in the telling of your own.

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